Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Journey Home: Part 1

I figured that even though I am tired and want to go to bed, I should write a post about the second part of our adoption before I forget it all. I have far too much working against me to try and convince myself that my memory will function properly (like pregnancy and exhaustion from sleepless children), so I will face the facts and suck it up. What's another hour of sleep anyway?!?

It all started on the Monday before Christmas, last Monday actually (though it seems much farther back than that). We had called our facilitator to see what time we needed to be up and ready for them to pick us up. These people have a way of not letting you know things until 10 minutes before they are at your door...if you're we figured it would be best to call. We knew that we would be doing lots of running that day. We found out that our facilitator was sick and wouldn't be there with us, but was sending someone to do the work with us instead and we should be ready at 8am. Okay. Sounds good to me.

We got up Monday morning and got ready...waited for them to pick us up...watched out the window. 9 rolls around...we are still waiting (which is NOT like them, they are early if anything)...9:30...9:45...we finally call Yulia, our sick facilitator, to find out what was going on. The driver and fill in facilitator had just called her to say that they were at the courthouse picking up some documents for us and they would be running later than expected. We should expect them around 11. ELEVEN?! Are you serious?! We got up and ready at 8 and were going to be waiting until 11 with no call? We weren't all that surprised to tell you the truth, but this was the day that was going to make or break our being home by Christmas, so we were more in need of things to work quickly.

Let me just tell you right now, Ukraine lived up to it's reputation well on this day. If you haven't heard anything about Ukraine's reputation, you will understand at the end of this post. If you will understand how we were feeling all day.

The thing is, they did show up around 11. We went out for the birth certificate first, which was supposed to take an hour or two to get. Then we would apply for a change of name on her social security card, then the passport. THEN we would know if we were going to have to mail off to Kyiv, or if we could do our passport in region. This was our plan. Unfortunately, our region was not being like all other regions according to the fill in facilitator (who does work as a facilitator alongside our normal one, so she does have experience). What normally takes an hour or two is a 3 day thing in this region. THAT is a little beyond normal, even for UA.

Our driver pulled some of his strings and used his connections there. He came to be our driver by the fact that his son is marrying the daughter of one of the ladies that works at children's services. The same lady who rented us her apartment for such an affordable price. She came in and did her thing and it was supposed to be good and dandy...except for one thing. Our fill in lady use our driver's words, a wet/limp fish. They didn't get along well at all. He kept doing what he could to make things happen, to open the doors, and then she wouldn't walk through them because she was fearful of walking on anyone's toes.

And before you get too worked up, this is the normal way of things there. Yulia would have walked right through whatever doors were placed in front of her and done it with confidence. N had a hard time even with the things that were perfectly normal. Yes, N and Nikolai (our driver) were NOT the best of friends. You don't want to know the things that he said about her when she was gone the next day...

Finally, we got things moving on the birth certificate change and went to eat lunch. Handsome and I were left to eat in this fancy restaurant where they checked our coats and had tons of food all brought out at different times. I was a little nervous about what the price was going to be with how fancy it was. When we got the bill, you will never guess how much it was. Salad, bread, soup, meat, mashed potatoes, juice, and I think there was something else other than Handsome's Coke- all of that added up to what would be the same as $3 each here! Crazy I tell you!

Anyway, they came in and picked us up after we ate and they had gone to get some copies done. We went back and finished filling out paperwork for the "request" for the birth certificate. Yes, was just the request that took that long and so things were not looking good for getting everything done that we needed to get done that day. (Did I mention that it was freezing cold outside? Well, it was. And we were walking. A lot.) After that we had to walk to a different building to actually get the birth certificate. Which, guess what? Was not ready by nearly the end of the day. Things were about to close.

I was feeling a bit discouraged that we had been able to get so little done. Then to add to things, our fill in told us that Nikolai was going to have to take us to get the rest of our things done tomorrow because she had to leave. She was going to leave us with someone who had no legal authority for our adoption and also didn't speak English. Don't get me wrong, I love the guy-he was a wonderful help to us in so many ways. BUT I still like to know what is going on at least while we are doing it.

Then the phone rang for our fill in lady. It was Yulia, our normal facilitator who shines like the sun. She is a legend. You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. She knows her work well and she gets things done. Apparently she and her boss had been working all day from where they were in Kyiv to get our passport done for Ana. When I was feeling totally discouraged, thinking that there was no way we would be getting home for Christmas with our kids, they called to tell us that they were able to get the passport done the old way and that we had to leave right now to get Ana photographed before the passport place closed. Only thing is, we were still waiting for the birth certificate (which I will add is supposed to be done before you can even apply for the passport).

Handsome stayed with N and I went with Nikolai to get Ana in the car. The two of them walked all over doing things while we went and got Ana out of the orphanage to get her photo taken, took her back there, drove to the passport office with those photos...and quite a substantial amount of cash (read bribe). It was crazy. All day had gone so slow and then we had an extremely busy last hour.

I confess. I cried when I found out that we would be home for Christmas. That's the truth...and I was in the car with Nikolai because they didn't clarify that part for us before, just that we needed to get the passport done right now. I think he had thoughts like- crazy pregnant woman! or something like that.

We got all that done and then by the time we reached the passport office it was about closing time. Handsome and N were coming out and said that all the people to process it were gone for the night, but all we would have to do is come and pick it up in the morning, which is something I could handle.

We went home beaming and tried to book flights for Christmas Eve. We weren't so lucky, but we got one for Christmas Day that arrived home at noon. I had really hoped to be home on Christmas Eve because I thought the timing would be so great. We left the day after Thanksgiving and if we arrived home the day before Christmas we would have missed no holiday at all. As it was we still didn't miss a holiday and for that we are very grateful. God's timing was perfect. We left later than we had planned for due to H1N1 scares, but didn't miss Thanksgiving with our families. Then we were barely able to make it home in time for Christmas. What better timing could you ask for?

So back to the story...

The next morning we got up early again and started our trek for more paperwork. We first went to the office to change the SS card name to Ana's new last name. We got to the building and what should we meet with? Well, it's a little thing the locals like to call "control". The security guard decided that he didn't want to let us or our driver in. This is not unheard of either, but it was not the day for it. To skip around a little, we went around all day through different times trying to get different "bosses" to sign and seal giving us permission to get this piece of paperwork that we had full right to get. It was just a looney situation.

While we did that, we were also doing other things. We went to the passport office four or so times trying to get that as well. This was needed and then was also just a mess of "control" that took all day. I will have you know that when we started the day I had our luggage ready to pack in the car so that we wouldn't have to come back to the apartment. Nikolai told us that we didn't need it. We weren't going to be out that long and everything was in the same area, so we would be fine. By the end of the morning, he had to call Yulia (who had shared many a phone call with him by that point) to tell her that he would have to send us on a later train than she had wanted. There just wasn't enough time. He also shared some frustrated mimes about how ditzy N was quite a few times. Apparently the instructions she left him were not what actually needed to be done, so we didn't even GET the paperwork from the first office done at all. We got something different done...I'm not sure, it was all communication that was done between people who speak nothing of the same language. Like I said, we got by just fine...but during paperwork times it is nice to have someone that speaks English.

I will spare you all the details. We did get everything done we needed to get done and had a little time for lunch in there too. Lunch which made me sick. So...while Handsome and Nikolai went to the market to get food for Ana on the train and some diapers, I stayed at the apartment and let my lunch flush down the drain. They then came back up to get me and I started to unlock the door. I couldn't open it. Handsome tried to unlock it from the outside and couldn't unlock it. It made all the sounds of unlocking, but it wouldn't open. Nikolai tried. It didn't work. I tried all directions of lock and unlock combinations with the top and bottom. Nothing worked. Nothing at all. I was stressing out, thinking what else could come against us right now! I was praying that God would just please move some of the obstacles out of our way because I was very sick and after 5 minutes of frantic attempts to unlock me from that apartment that had no fire exit, I was just ready to be done. Finally, it worked. It just decided to unlock...and then we were good.

Well, okay then and thank you Lord.

Then, we went to pick Ana up while I was still feeling queezy. I took some medicine that finally helped a little, and we waited for our driver to come and pick us up. He had left us to see Ana and let her say good bye to all those that she knew and loved as family while he bought our train tickets for us.

We waited and waited. He was later than expected. Yulia called to tell us that he had been in a small car accident, but would be there soon. She ate a little and threw a huge fit. They gave her candy to calm her. (Not something I hadn't seen them do before...candy for a fit...wahoo I was excited to break that habit when we got home!) When he finally got to us we had to rush and sign some papers, dress her in her snow pants and coat and get out the door to make our train. More crazy rushing. And my nerves were not doing well with all of that at this point. I was beginning to be a wreck of nerves with all of the events of the day. I just wanted some predictability and a chance to rest.

...we will continue tomorrow (or when I next get a chance) where we are leaving off- the train ride.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Home for Christmas

Sorry to those of you that are not part of my Facebook friend list. I have not taken the time to update here that we made it home yesterday at noon, just in time for Christmas gifts and dinner. I have a lot to update you on, but I am also exhausted so it will have to wait. Isn't that how it works? When you have the most to share, you have the least time to do it.

I will say that Ana did very well on both planes and was amazingly good. She didn't cry or get antsy one time and we live on the west coast, so we had a LOT of flying to do to get home. She also did very well meeting her family and cuddling with those that she met. She played and wandered around as if she has been part of the family for a long time.

Today is our second day and it has been rough on her however. Her system is going through a lot right now and she is exhausted and sick. She has been throwing up today and wasn't even keeping clear liquids down most of the day. This evening I was able to give her Pedialite and it has stayed down for nearly two hours now. Hopefully that is a good sign and an answer to prayer.

Off to bed now. I am not sure how much sleep I am going to get since miss Curly was up a lot last night too. Ana is asleep, so I need to join in.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Generosity of God

With all of the things going on for us right now, being in Ukraine bringing Anastasia home and growing another baby, I am reminded of last spring. Last spring we got our tax return. It was a rather large tax return and we had a lot of things that we wanted to use it for that were all very reasonable things.

We wanted a different car with more room for our growing family. Our car at the time was a Kia Spectra, which is a great car but was limited on space. Smiles was growing, so my knees were in the dashboard if we had anywhere to go as all four of us (he weighed too much for the infant seat, but still had to face backward), and four of us filled the car. Yes, there was a seat in the middle of the two carseats, but even aunt artsy, who is really small, could not fit between the two. We couldn't take anyone in the car with us, including the dog and we were often needing to carry extra passengers.

Old Blue, our couch, was...OLD. Our other couch wasn't in the greatest shape, but Blue was in terrible condition. It had holes in it (BIG holes in the upholstery) and was plain worn out. Blue had some very good days and was still comfortable, but you have to understand that he belonged to my grandparents before our family. I remember coming home from Kindergarten sick, driven by the school nurse Mrs. Wardle (who knew my Grandma from church, so it was all good) and sleeping on that couch. I have lots of memories with that couch, but I was not above admitting that it was time to let go.

Our carpets were in bad shape too. Our ultimate goal is to get laminate flooring for the main living space since we have a dog and little children. The person who thought it was a smart idea to build a starter home with carpeted dining room space was, in my humble opinion, NOT someone who had kids. We just would have liked to get the carpets cleaned. (Would have LOVED to get new floors, but cleaning the carpets would have been great too.) We still have a vacuum that is on it's way out, but God has blessed it with a very long last leg. It might not work as well as we would like it to, but it still gets most of the job done.

These are a few of the things that we would have liked to do with our tax return, and really we could have made it work for all of those things. (We still had a bit of hospital bills from Smiles that we owed, which got paid off before anything...but that was a must, not a flexible thing. Responsibilities must be taken care of too you know.)

But we asked God. He had been (and still is I might add) teaching us a lot about generosity. We were learning how really all we had and all that we are is His anyway. I gave my life to Christ. That means I gave Him control of everything, including the possessions that I have on this Earth. We prayed and asked Him if any of these things were something that He would allow, or if He had other plans for our cash.

What did He say? Well, it was the same answer over and over again. The words that I kept hearing were, "Be generous with me, and I will be generous with you." I kept asking for a number, "Well, how much is that God?" And all He would say in return was, "Be generous with me, and I will be generous with you." So, I finally shared with my husband what I was hearing and he agreed that we should give as much as we could to God. Everything after those responsibilities. We had a few, like that hospital bill that I mentioned for Smiles.

I have pieced it together some since then, but hadn't really looked at the big picture all together that much yet. As I am here in Ukraine, away from my two little ones that I spend all of my time with, I have a little more time for thinking. And the reality is now more real. We are close to coming home with our little Ana, we are nearly home with one of the blessings that we have been given by the Lord this year.

It all started shortly after our that moment when we decided how much we were giving. Handsome got in a car accident, which I realize sounds like quite the blessing, but it did turn out to be. If you recall the car issue that we had...well, Handsome got in a car accident that totaled the car, yet the airbag didn't go off. He had no pain after the incident, even though he should have. Our insurance company gave us $2,000 more than the car was worth blue book, and we were able to get a really good deal on a car that fit our family better. It was a definite blessing in many ways. This was all a preparation in trusting God to provide. He wanted us to recognize that if He provided for us in the things that were more worldly, then He would also provide even more for the things that He called us to. It was preparation.

Shortly after our car was provided, God led us to Anastasia. Within a very short amount of time, with no $ in our bank account (because we insisted on only buying a car we could afford without payments...thus we didn't have savings yet), we committed to Ana. God called us and we knew that we could trust Him to provide. He may not always provide in the ways that we expect Him to, and not through the people that we expect Him to, but He has provided. We have been so blessed in all of the areas of our adoption. He has gone before us in all things and has provided all that we have needed Him to provide. I have also learned that His faithfulness is not dependent upon my faith. The Lord is faithful even when I don't have the faith to trust Him in every step that He asks me to take. Sometimes I don't take small steps because I am fearful and lacking faith. He has still walked toward me. He takes more steps toward me than I can ever take toward Him. This is not meeting in the middle because I am not capable. God meets me where He knows that I am able to meet Him at the moment.

Even when I feel like I fail Him.

And what about those other things? Well, old Blue made it out of our living room too. My brother and his wife moved and couldn't fit one of their couches into the new place, so they offered to give us their couch. We gladly accepted their offer. I also have heard that we were blessed with a gift of clean carpets while we are gone. I haven't seen them yet, but I'm sure they look much better than they did when we left home.

So, as I look back, I can see that we chose to give God all that we could and He was generous with us beyond what we could have come close to expecting. (Do you think that I would have ever imagined that He would bless us with two more children? I do not think so!) He also provided for all of the things that we felt like we were sacrificing to do what He asked. And even if He hadn't, I know that I would still feel blessed beyond measure. I'm sure that the new (again) Daddy next to me would agree.

So, did God do as He said when He answered, "Be generous with me and I will be generous with you." ? I would certainly say that He did.

Wild Dogs

Interesting thing. But first, I will make sure that you know- the private blog for Ana's adoption is now public, so if you wanted to catch up on everything and didn't have access you can do so now. I will probably mostly post here now. It's easier to just have one blog to think about and log in to. You can get there by clicking here.

So, back to that interesting thing. There are lots of dogs wandering the streets here. You may or may not know that, I had personally heard about it before our arrival. Seeing is a little different, but not all that surprising. The dogs form small packs and spend their time around the people, but don't interact with the people at all. It's almost like there are two different worlds existing next to each other, but they don't acknowledge that the other exists.

On our daily 20 minute walk that we were making four times a day, there and back for two visits, we saw quite a few dogs. We would often pay attention to the dogs that hang out by the market we walk by that is just across the street from our apartment. There are two dogs that tend to be near the entrance to the market and sit near a fish vendor. Every morning when we are walking by, about 10:15 am, the fish vendor is pulling up to the sidewalk and opening up the back of his van. The back door pops up like a roof and he puts a tarp to make a side of protection. He sets up a scale, then brings out a bin of live fish. I wouldn't call them lively by any means, but they are alive...splish splashing around every now and again. Sometimes this dog will get fish heads or other tasty treats from the vendor. Other times women from inside will give the two dogs bones from the meat they have been cutting and selling. (I wouldn't buy meat here...most of it is not held to the standards that I would require for my meat.)

We also frequent a pizza place. When we first walked in we asked for an "English menu" and they had one (which we learned from our friend Ellen in Kyiv). They are quite kind and easy to buy food from, so we go most days. Oh...and did I mention they are cheap? Well, we get two individual pizzas and two bottles of soda for what would equal about $5 total. There are a couple of dogs outside the pizza place that we see regularly. They seem to get bones once in awhile from random people and then sleep around the buildings curling up. The people don't exist to them unless they have food for them or initiate interaction.

At night, something changes. In the late evening we start to hear the dogs bark and howl. It sounds as though they are in large groups at this point with many dogs. During the day we only see two to three at a time, but at night they sound like very large groups. Something will set them off and they bark and bark running around. This was all interpreted by sound.


Yesterday morning our dog sounds seemed to migrate to our apartment complex. I started to hear them outside barking. They were very loud and sounded like they were in "attack mode", so I decided to look outside the window to see what this nighttime dog pack looked like. We had heard them nearly every night, but had never had them close enough to see.

I kind of wish they had stayed far away. I looked out the window to see a man in his car trying to get out of the complex. His car was surrounded by 8 or so dogs, barking and howling at him. They wouldn't let up and were really "attacking" his car! After some time, he turned off his car and just sat there waiting. He couldn't very well get out... Then he was saved. Another man went to his car and started it up. As you can imagine, a running car is more interesting than one that is sitting there doing nothing, so they ran over to the new car and barked at their new target. First man then started up his car and got out of there quickly. I don't know the talents of the second driver, but somehow he wasn't stuck long. He didn't even seem to be caught up by the dogs in the slightest bit. Later I saw this group around people and I was quite nervous about leaving our apartment to walk to see Ana. I am NOT an animal person most of the time, though we have a cat and dog at home. And I am NOT okay with wild packs of dogs surrounding me as you can imagine.

The time came for us to leave, and fortunately the dogs had gone off to another location for the time being. We got to the orphanage safely, albeit freezing nearly to death. (Which reminds me to tell you that it's been very cold here and we have only been visiting Ana in the morning because the snow is too bad for our driver at night, and way too cold for walking.) Walking home was no piece of cake either, but we got here and made it inside because of an old man's kindness. His kindness to the dogs...which became kindness to us even if he didn't know it. As we slyly walked in to the parking area, he was walking away from us with a bag full of bones for the dogs. I think he was leading them somewhere else. We were sneaking inside without any attention from the dogs and it seems that our old man friend had a good plan because I haven't heard them so close since then.

So, all that to tell you they have some interesting dogs in Ukraine. I was not scared of them at all until we saw the large pack of them that chases people down, but to be fair most of the dogs have been much different than those. If you visit, don't be surprised if you encounter something like either type of these dogs. Nice ones or not, you are sure to encounter wild dogs of some kind.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Four Things...

Well, there has been a lot going on here, but not very much all at the same time. We are just waiting through our ten day waiting period for the time when we can start the paperwork to leave with Ana.

A couple quick updates are in order. First, as many of you already know, miss Tonya has a family! I was very excited about this and they are already going on their process to bring her home. Her new family has two teen sisters and a set of twin brothers that are five. Mom is a retired RN and Dad is a police officer (if I remember correctly). I've been talking with the mom via e-mail a bit and think that Tonya will have a wonderful new family to call her very own.

Next, it's snowing here. It's been snowing for awhile now and we are cold. I'm sure to any who live in colder areas than our mild pacific northwest weather this is no big deal...we however are adjusting to our new temperatures. It's pretty. Just cold. We might decide to have our driver take us to and from the orphanage for the second visit for the next couple of days since the 20 minute (a little more in the snow) walk home is a bit more difficult for my pregnant self when it's a whopping 18 degrees outside. Saturday is supposed to have a high of 18, and the low is foretasted to be negative 1...oh joy of joys! I can't wait!!! ;-)

Really, the snow is strange here. At home we get bigger flakes and they fall softly to the ground. This is not like that. It's a constant falling (sideways and whatnot) of tiny hard balls of "snow" that sting your face as you try to walk. Surprisingly, it still piles up pretty fast and we slip plenty too.

Pile that on top of Ana being sick right now with her cute little eyes all puffy, red, and watery...well, that will give you this mommy who is trying to keep a good attitude. I'm not showing it very well at the moment, am I. Handsome would probably agree. We are both ready to hit the road home and be in the place that we know well. All in good time. All in God's perfect time =D.

Last thing- today is Handsome's 28th birthday. Happy Birthday honey! (He is closer to 30 than least on paper.) We bought a cake at the local market place and celebrated here at our apartment. It's too snowy to do much outside the house. We also stopped on our way home and had pizza for dinner instead of cooking our dinner.

I could share more, but we have been keeping busy and I am quite tired. Instead of staying on the computer and typing, I think I will choose to go to bed.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Today we had our court appointment to determine if they would grant us the privilege of being Anastasia's parents. It went well, though we were the first in this region to adopt special needs, we are very young (and they make sure that they point this out often for us), and we don't have a special needs child already. In the end though, we were granted rights to Anastasia and she is now officially our daughter. We can't take her out of the orphanage yet, but she is ours.

So...what happens now?

Now we wait for ten days before we can do anything. This wait is so that anyone in the country can have an opportunity to appeal the decision that was made today. Since she has had no interest in her by her parents or her adult siblings (which we just found out about today...she has two adult siblings that have never shown an interest in her at all), we don't believe that anyone would appeal this.

Then, after our ten days of visiting with Ana twice a day, and seeing any sights that we would like to see, we start the process of coming home. In region, meaning here in her town, we have three things to do. First, we get her birth certificate, which is thankfully in this city. That makes things faster for us. We get the birth certificate changed to have our names as her parents. This is done same day in a matter of an hour or so. Then we change her social security card to have her new name on it. Also done same day, so this is done the same day that the birth certificate is changed. Finally, we get her a passport. Now this is the part that we need prayer over. We will be able to make it home for Christmas IF our facilitator team is able to pull some strings to get the passport done the old way. The old way is done in region, the new way is done in Kiev. The old way we get it back right away, the new way we must wait for 3-5 business days for it to arrive back from Kiev. So, if we don't make it home for Christmas, we will be just shy of it.

This is the part that we need prayer for. Pray that we are able to get our passport the old way so that we can be home for Christmas with all of our kids. ALL of them =).

After these things we leave for Kiev where we will spend one day doing things at the US embassy (getting a visa, and medical clearance for Ana), and then the next day we can leave for home. This is all that is left between us and home. Home with our normal routine (or what will become our normal routine), and all of the people we miss.

This is my update for now. I am tired and ready for bed, but wanted to be sure and update you before I go to sleep...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

You Want to See Ana

I need to show you all some photos of Ana on this blog! Just so you know, whoever said that you need to bring forty books and three hundred things to do was NOT having the same experience that I am. I have not cracked a book. We get up, have breakfast and get ready, then check our e-mail and online things. We leave to go and visit Ana. We come home for the middle of the day, which is my favorite part of the day. This time includes lunch, any outside stuff we are going to do, like going to the market, blogging, facebook, and things of that nature. Then we leave to go visit Ana for our second visit of the day. That visit is a little long since we are mostly in a room with her for two hours. We all get a little bit bored since we have a very limited amount of things to do. After that, we come home and make dinner, Skype with our kids if it chooses to work that day, and then often fall asleep right after that. It's a long day.

But anyway, I'm sure you would like to see little miss Ana.

That's our little cutie. She loves her Daddy. Mommy is okay, and if she is upset and wants a snuggle Mommy works well. Mostly it's all about Dad though, which is quite like the kids at home. If they want to play, Daddy is the man. If they want comfort or snuggles, then they come to Mom.

I also wanted to update on the Tonya front. Tonya's funds are up quite a bit. She has a little over $4,000 in her angel tree fund and $2200 in her regular fund. Her total right now is $6, 225! You guys are awesome! We have Tonya well on her way to her family and I think we will get her there soon. Thank you to those of you that have contributed to her fund, and thank you also to those that are praying for her. Your prayers are the best way to get her home to the family that God has for her. I will update all of you as soon as I know a family has committed to her and give you any information that I can about that family. Once one of these children makes it into your heart, you have a special attachment even if you can't bring them home. I know this because of all of the families that have contacted me through our process and shared with us all the praying and fund raising they have done for Anastasia. It has blessed us greatly to hear the love that many have had for our daughter and I know that your love for little Tonya will bless her forever family too.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Quick Tonya Update

There is a family that is very much wanting to adopt Tonya, but the funding is what is holding them back. My hope is that we can all raise enough funds for Tonya in the next few days to get them to a place they feel comfortable they can raise the rest. If 1090 people donate just $20, then we can have her whole adoption funded. We can do that friends. We can give this family the help they need so that they can bring Tonya into their loving family.

The way to help is by donating on and specifying that the donation is for Tonya in orphanage 24. Please spread word and let people know this little girl needs her forever family. They are there waiting to bring her home and we can all do something to help make it happen. Even a $5 donation makes a difference, trust me- I know this well. Please pray for this to happen for little Tonya. I will be sure to update you when I am able.

Off to see Ana!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


We have met our beautiful Anastasia and she is such a wonderful little child. Her orphanage is very special, different from what I thought it might be like. They have 53 children and lots of adults around taking care of them. These women love the children and care about them very much, it shows in the children too. They are confident and sweet tempered, and I have seen the workers play with the children. They smile and laugh with the children and in Ana's case they have worked with her in the areas she needed special attention. Two years ago she was very weak and wasn't capable of all the things she can do now. She is doing very well now and when we visit with her I don't even realize her diagnosis is there. It's as if we were playing with either of our children at home.

I want to share pictures with you, but right now I have more important matters on my mind. Ana has a friend in her orphanage that also has Down Syndrome. Her name is Tonya. Tonya is nearing 5 years old and they are going to have to send her to an institution. The orphanage director teared up a little as she let me take a couple photos of Tonya and told me that she needs a family, just as she teared up when she was telling us during our interview how special Ana is and all about her personality. She really loves these children and wants them to have families. They teach the kids that one day a mom and dad will come for them, so when we first met Ana she was not shy at all. She was quite the opposite, running through the door to greet us and jumping up into Handsome's arms.

The director is fearful of transfer for Tonya. She said Tonya will loose all the potential and current skills that she has if she were to be transferred. I asked her how long until they would have to transfer her...she didn't answer. She just looked over at Tonya and said, "I will do everything to keep her here if I can know she has a family coming for her." And she will. She loves this little girl just as she loves our Ana. We are the first family ever in this region to adopt a child with Down Syndrome. At this orphanage they do not do very many adoptions per year. Usually it is just a couple, but this year has been a full one. They have had 13 adoptions, both in country and international (I think that is what we were told). That is a lot for them.

I can tell you that adopting from this region is a blessing. The people are very charming and the city shares the same. It's a bigger city, the capital of it's region. The locals are very friendly and the buildings are old and colorful. As with most of the country, they walk everywhere. There are plenty of cars, but also many people walking to their destinations. Though it's a big city, it has the feel of a small town which is more like what I enjoy. Everything is more than affordable here, so our food, housing, and transportation has not been as expensive here. The officials and other people you work with for adoption are kind and interested as well. They have been very friendly and kind. I can't speak for all regions, but adopting from here is sure to be an enjoyable experience.

So friends, we need to find a family for Tonya. We have to find one and I know we can do it. We have been blessed with this amazing tool of communication called the internet and it makes spreading information so easy. Please spread the word about Tonya and help us find a family for her quickly. Pray that we can find one for her even this week. Share this information on your blog. Share it with friends. Share through Facebook or e-mail, whatever means you can so that this little girl can have a family coming for her as her Christmas gift this year.

Tonya is very high functioning. She walks and runs well, and has a large vocabulary. She is quite the healthy little girl, she just has a diagnosis that frightens people in her area because they don't know much about it. She sat on my lap in a bench swing today and snuggled in a little. She is sure to be a special addition to her forever family when they come for her. When our facilitator asked her if she wanted a Mom and Dad today, she said, "Da. Da." (Which means yes, yes.)

Are you Tonya's forever family? If you would like more information about Tonya or the process of adopting her, please contact Andrea from Reece's Rainbow. Click the link here and scroll down to Tonya. She is orphanage 24 (the only child there). You can click on Andrea's name which is highlighted to contact her. If you want to ask me any questions as well, feel free. I would love to do anything that would help Tonya find her family.

Friday, November 27, 2009

At the Airport

We are currently at the airport sitting at our gate waiting for our flight to Frankfurt, and then on to our little girl's country . I will now be using the private blog for updates, so if you wanted to keep updated on our adoption process and don't have an invite to that blog, let me know. I might not have a chance to add you right away, but will do it as soon as I can.

Talk to you all soon!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Another Thing We Do For Fun...

We wear diapers on our head instead of...well, you know.

Okay, so we don't all do that. Just this little guy does =). And though it may look as though he ran around for an hour like that, it was just a minute or two. This kid moves fast!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

What Do We Do For Fun?

Well, it all started with this little shirt.

While I was getting Curly in her pajamas, Handsome decided to put this shirt of hers on her brother for a little laugh. (I did not buy this shirt. It was part of a box of hand me downs. We liked a lot of the things...but this isn't quite our normal style =D.)

Then Handsome thought he would give it a try. It actually fit. (Well, fit isn't the right word, but he got it to go on his body. And that was surprising.)

And Curly got to go next. There is her special "camera" smile. Can't get good pictures of that girl right now. She always gives me the "camera" smile, or a frown...or some goofy thing that has no name yet.

Lily is up next. Notice that she smiles with the same smile that Curly does? Cute. (note the sarcasm) Thanks for teaching Lily your smile babe.

And finally HIM. He got to try the shirt on too =).

Yes, that's the end. This Mommy has a growing belly that is at the stage where I know it's baby in there, but it looks like flabby gut at this point. I am not going to put an extremely tight shirt on thank you. You're just going to have to deal with it.

And that, my friends, is how our family has fun.

...some of the time.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On Our Way

It's been a little while since I updated you all on the progress of our adoption. Part of that is because of some delays that weren't expected. We thought we would get a travel date a little over a week ago, but then the country that we are traveling to had some closures of most of the public facilities due to that special illness that is going around. We weren't expecting to get a date for travel until after things opened back up in three weeks., we got a surprise e-mail from our lovely facilitator that gave us a date for our appointment with the State Department of Adoptions. That is the appointment where we will get a referral for our little girl and from there we get to go and meet her and begin the process of bringing her home!

We will be traveling out the day after Thanksgiving and will have our appointment that Monday. It's getting closer! Ana, here we come =).

Now, a few of you might be wondering the status of our funds. We have been able to get a loan (through Handsome's 401K) that got us what we need to travel, after some other people blessed us with donations too. This loan is higher than what we can afford each month, but is the only option we had and I know that God will work it out one way or another. At first I was frustrated with a few things about that option, but then I realized that God was giving us an opportunity to continue growing our faith in His ability to make sure we have the things we need even after we bring Ana home. And really, that is a blessing. It's just hard to see that when you are frustrated with the first view of numbers that don't work.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

November Third.

Today is November 3rd.

I wanted to remind those of you that have been around awhile, and share with those of you that have started following recently of some special people.

November third of last year I got an instant message in the morning from a good friend's husband. It was not a good message. It was a panic stricken message asking for immediate prayer on behalf of his wife and daughters. November third was the day that Allison Anne and Emily Nicole were born. November third was the day that Allison left the arms of her earthly father for the arms of her Heavenly Father. November third is a day for difficult memories. Especially for this Mommy. Emily Nicole shared a short 8 days with her parents before joining her sister. My thoughts are heavy with Brie today. Not only must she face this day, but also the 11th. Two girls. Two days to live through. But really, there are all the other days that come before and after these days to live through as well.

I wanted to share today so that Allison and Emily will not be forgotten. A short life does not mean one that has to go unknown.

Allison will always be a strong little girl in my mind. The things that happened could have gone so much differently. At 18 weeks into the pregnancy, Allison's amniotic sac broke. This is not a good thing and it was surprising that she didn't loose the babies at that time. Allison had a rough time in the womb, but she stuck it out from 18 weeks, to 26 1/2 weeks. I like to think that she was able to make it that long so that her sister could make it to the point of viability as well. Emily gave her parents 8 days. 8 days to love her, to see her with their eyes 8 days that I hope were somewhat of a comfort. 8 days that were rough for her little body as well. What a strong baby girl!

In times like this it is easy to blame tragic circumstances on God. Really He is not to blame. We live in a world where men gave up their right to reign. WE gave Satan rule, not God. While He is able to step in and stop whatever He chooses, it is not He who makes the bad things happen. It is hard for us to understand (actually impossible) why He chooses to "fix" the things He chooses to "fix" and why He chooses to leave other things as they would heart-breakingly be.

I wish that He had given life on Earth with their parents for many years to these two girls, but can still see the gift that He did give even if it wasn't the one that was desired. It was miraculous that they lived from 18 weeks (when they wouldn't have lasted moments outside the womb), to 26 1/2 weeks where they were able to spend time with their parents and be held and touched. I can't know the feelings of their parents by any scope of the imagination, but believe that those moments were better than none at all. That those moments are still memories of their daughters that they are able to have. Sad moments that hurt the heart and stain this day, but pictures that they have to look at when they think about their girls. Moments that are probably flooding their minds today.

Please say a prayer for this sweet Mama today. And if you have a moment, please head over to Brie's blog and leave a note telling her that her girls are not forgotten. Perhaps just a word saying that you are praying for her today might be a small comfort.

If you would like to read the full story of Brie's baby girls from last year, click here.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Lower Ears for Smiles

Smilesy got his first hair cut this week. I think it looks super cute, though daddy was a little disappointed that I had it done. The curls were super cute, but they were getting out of hand and a bit long to sit the way they should. They'll grow back later.

Before picture below:

And after:

I think it makes him look a lot more like his daddy...and less like a little girl =). Handsome little guy? I think so.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Laundry Chronicles: Pink

Now, you might think by the title that we are going to talk about a red sock that gets thrown in with the whites...but no sir. I like to keep you on your toes.

Pink is Curly's best friend. Curly usually keeps pink very close to her, especially during times of rest or sleeping. Pink is a staple in her life, like food and water. Pink is that important.

Now we go with a different topic that seems quite unrelated at the start but then you quickly begin to see where they come together. That's the predictability of this writer.

Curly is three. Curly is potty trained...during the day. Curly needs to learn to go potty at night. That's not a fun thing for this Mommy to think about because unlike all the hooligans that stay up til all hours of night (read 8pm bedtimers) and have no need of getting up to go potty at night, Curly and Smiles go to bed at 6pm. She can stay up until 6:30 or 7 on a lucky night. She sleeps until about 7am. (Yes. I miss when it was 8am before Smiles was born.)

...count the's okay, I won't tell if you use your fingers.

Yep. That's right. Long time no pee.

We tried a few nights and then I gave up and decided she just wasn't ready. She is a very heavy sleeper afterall, so heavy that I can't even wake her enough to sleep walk her to the bathroom. AND IF I get her to the bathroom, she sits there too sleepy to release enough to pee. Not. Working.

You would think that changing the sheets every night would be the biggest reason that I don't want to do this night time potty fiasco. But that's not entirely true. While I don't like changing the sheets so often, it does work well that she is on a bunk bed with two beds that have waterproof mattress covers and the bottom is still empty. Her sister is still waiting in a far off land to warm that little bottom bunk. So a quick switch of clothes and bunks and we are good until morning. I don't have to focus on stripping the bed until then.

No. The issue isn't only the sheet changing. The big issue is Pink. Pink the blankey.

See...wet bed = wet Pink. We have an extra bed. We don't have an extra Pink. No extra Pink means Mommy doesn't get a wink.

Unless...Mommy gets so lazy with the rules that she actually allows Curly to sleep with a slightly damp blankey. BUT THAT would NEVER happen here. I'm just saying that some Mom's might do that. Not me.

There is weeping and wailing. You would think that someone had died. For real. Or that monsters came out from under the bed. But no...


And here is where I correct you again. You are probably thinking- 3 year old logic states that I need my blanket to sleep and I don't care if it stinks. Uh....NO. That would mean that the protesting of washing Pink was limited to the middle of the night or near naptime. And that's just not so.

Curly believes within the deepest parts of her that if Pink gets washed something horrible will happen. She is convinced of it. She didn't tell me so with words, but it's pretty clear that she believes that because if I tell her that I am going to clean Pink, she throws herself on the floor in attempted self sacrifice on behalf of Pink, begging me to spare her beloved best sleep mate.

If you saw it, trust me, you would surely think that I was an awful Mother who threatens to unravel Pink thread by thread right in front of her face.

It's tragic.

So, what's a Mommy to do? If you have any suggestions, feel free to share them. For now, Pink is my bi-weekly (okay, more like monthly) prisoner of war. If I'm lucky I get to free her before Curly becomes any the wiser.

As you can see, Pink has been around a long time. If you can consider three and a half years a long time...

Pink turning Smiles into a "manger".

Notice that pj's are usually still on when Pink is around. And that she isn't selfish with Pink. She shares her with Smiles all the time.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Meanwhile, Back at the Farm...

It's that time of year again. My favorite time of year- FALL. Time for our trip out to the farm for the pumpkin experience.

Try getting these two to look the same direction at the same time and you will understand why light was the least of my worries at the moment...

Curly loves animals. She was feeling pretty brave to get this close to the goat, and I think for good reason. Not long after the photo, Mr. goat came out of that hole pretty far... could scare the pants right off Miss Curly and nearly did.

They got to climb through a long tunnel (read large pipe) suspended in the air. It was fun for both of them, though Curly was too fast to get many photos of. Smiles LOVED the tunnel!

Then...well, then I think I forgot my brain over with that tunnel and got into a cow train with Smiles since he was too small to ride in it himself. It was a bit tight.

And then...

it started raining (actually down-pouring in wonderful Northwest style) on our way back.

I don't think you can actually tell from the pictures the severity of the rain, but I tell you it was some hard rain. My lap looked like I had stepped straight out of a pool when I got out. That's WITH Smiles sitting on it! All that said it was one of the most fun things I have done with Smiles and we both couldn't stop laughing. Curly was laughing right along with us in the car in front of us.

So...we needed something dry for a little while after that. Off to the "corn room" it was. They have a very fun room at Maris Farms that is filled with corn kernels. There are rubber ducks hiding in it so the little ones can search for them. Quite fun if you ask Curly, and Smiles was pretty interested this year too.

As you can see, the corn was good at soaking in the wet from our clothes with it's dry coating of dust. It actually worked quite well.

Smiles found a duck. That was fun and looked so tasty too.

WHAT!?! Sister stole his duck!!! That mean sister...she had to give it back. Can't have a fun day without a little issue between siblings, right?

He is quick to forgive her. You know that sunshine comes out of her...well, nevermind...he got his duck back.

(You can see where Smiles had a coat to protect him and where he didn't with the rain soaked pants.)

Now for little brother's revenge. He got to bury her in corn!

(She really looks scared, doesn't she...)

Mom helped Smiles finish the job.

Yep. Totally frightened out of her mind...I'm sure of it Smiles.

She asked to be painted with a pig, so that's what she got.

Then Smiles got to drive her on a tractor (don't worry, it doesn't really move).

He loved that. He never gets to lead.

I think we need to teach them about looking AT the camera for these shots...hmmm...

And then came the pumpkin picking. We adopted a rule from a mentor mom (who happens to be a good friend's mother) my first year of MOPS. Her rule was that the kids could get whatever pumpkin they wanted, but they had to be able to carry it to the car all by themselves. Love that rule. Except this year...

Maris kind of failed us. Their pumpkins were way too HUGE. We looked and looked, and they have tons of pumpkins, but we couldn't find one that she could pick up.

Luckily she was content to get the kind Smiles gets. The small ones. She got a small pumpkin and a gourd since she could carry both of them.

We weren't going to carve this year anyway, so it worked out just fine.

Curly with her pumpkin, and Smiles with his.

Happy Harvest friends!

If you would like to see last year's trip to Maris, click here.